More Zim gems unearthed in UK
Collin Matiza Sports Editor
TWO more promising young football players with their roots in Zimbabwe — Bolton and Ben Makwedza — have been unearthed in the UK and they have indicated that they are willing to play for the Warriors in the future.
The talented Makwedza brothers are currently attached to different clubs in the UK with 16-year-old Bolton already on the books of Rotherham United where he plays for their Under-18 and reserve sides while his younger brother Ben has just signed up with York City FC Academy as an Under-14.
Rotherham United, nicknamed The Millers, are a professional club based at Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England. They compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system, following their relegation from the Championship in the 2018–19 season
And among Rotherham United’s future stars is defender Bolton Makwedza, who turns 17 in February next year and is already a regular member of their reserve side. He also features for the club’s Under-18 team which recently lost 4-2 after extra-time to Mansfield in the second round of the FA Youth Cup at the One Call Stadium.
Although they lost to Mansfield in the FA Youth Cup, for 10-man Rotherham, Bolton Makwedza looked quite a talent, according to reports from England.
In fact, Bolton Makwedza is a multi-talented player as he also plays rugby but has a passion for football and dreams of turning into a fully-fledged professional with one of the English Premiership sides “if he is groomed and nurtured well” at Rotherham United.
The Makwedza brothers were discovered by UK-based Zimbabwean coach Phillip Zulu who is into junior football coaching and he helped them to enrol as Under-8s into his Futsal (five-a-side soccer) side way back in 2011.
They were all Futsal mentored since the ages of six.
The older of the Makwedza brothers, Bolton, was to later catch the eye of the coaches of Rotherham United’s academy and through hard work, dedication, devotion and discipline, he found his way into the team’s reserve side this season and is a regular player there.
When contacted by The Herald yesterday, coach Zulu said the Makwedza brothers have a bright future ahead of them.
“The two brothers started training with us late in 2011 and enrolled for Futsal programmes that started in West Riding County Football Association under the English FA. These junior programmes of Futsal leagues were run every Friday night and tournaments were held every school break for more than five years.
“This helped so many young players to develop in small-sided games that are compact, intensive, highly technically demanding and the intricate skills abilities are in greater use as the creativity of their continuous learning.
“Futsal helped to nurture them, and their adaptation in the main 11 v 11 football development was smooth and positive. They honed the basics in Futsal so their abilities on the ball were good hence their progression into good academy football levels.
“Most of their other teammates from Super Eagles Futsal have also signed up with different academies and youth teams in the English Premier League,” Zulu said from his base in Leeds, England. He also said that Futsal is a development tool that they use to mentor junior players over the years and its success has been very impressive as record numbers came out from these programmes at any given time.
“They’re all ready to play for Zimbabwe junior national teams from Under-17 to 23. We have Tavonga Khuleya (Doncaster Rovers FC), Jimmiel Chikukwa, Ethan Kachosa (both at Leeds United), Phillip Mundenda (Hull City), Lucky Ndlovhu (Bradford City) and Panashe Bradley Kuzamba (now signed with Athletic Fuengorila in Spain).
“The stakes are high in terms of developing young talents and without any doubt, all these young players can make a huge impact in the national teams as we seriously prepare for our first ever World Cup qualification in Qatar 2022, next AFCON qualifiers and all other junior tournaments.
“For instance, the Under-17 World Cup tournament is a must for us to take part every stage when it is being hosted since we have the players with pedigree to compete at the highest levels. By gelling local players with well developed young players from top European leagues will definitely help improve the local standards back in Zimbabwe as the exposure brings seams of learning and adaptation to players and coaches as well.
“We are our own enemies in these failures that are blighting our nation, our young players are crying out for recognition at national team levels but nothing is being done to bring them on board. We have more than 25 such young players in Europe but nobody is bothered about our predicament in terms of poor standards being shown at big international tournaments. Madagascar has gone this route and we are still in limbo.
“We now compete with Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Cameroon, Nigeria etc, in producing top young talents in Europe but the difference is that, those other countries swallow their pride and invite these highly developed players and their standards at top international tournaments is impressive.
“Senegal ranks in the top 30 of world football because that is the route they can afford to use, using players who are well coached,” Zulu said.